Should More Women Work in Agriculture? Mullingar, Co. Westmeath, Ireland 1983

Should More Women Work in Agriculture? Mullingar, Co. Westmeath, Ireland 1983

Opinions on the place of women in farming from male farmers at the Mullingar mart.

In County Westmeath the buying and selling of livestock takes place at the Mullingar Mart. However there are no women to be seen participating in this part of the essential business of farming.

Farmers at the mart are asked whether they would encourage their daughters to become farmers? Regarding land inheritance, one farmer thinks he would only leave the farm to a daughter if he had no sons. Otherwise he would uphold the tradition of leaving the farm to the son.

This practice automatically puts an obstacle in the way of women becoming farmers. It is not a custom that the farmers at Mullingar Mart see changing.

Traditionally women in farming have played a secondary, home centered role. This role is taken for granted by an older farmer at the mart. If his wife was absent the one thing she does that he would find it difficult to manage without is,

To get me dinner.

Further gender stereotyping of female farmers is they do not have the skills for buying or selling at the mart,

I wouldn’t think they’d have that experience of a man.

In the absence of experience, some women would be unable to learn the necessary skills.

Similarly undermining is the belief held by another farmer that women could not cope with the multiple problems that occur when farming 50, 60 or 100 acres of land. For him, the activities of female farmers are just something he reads about in the ‘Irish Farmers Journal’. In his view, the practicalities of moving a herd of 20 cattle from one pen to another and then dosing them, would be simply beyond the abilities of women.

I’m afraid now do you know it takes a little bit of doing.

This episode of the ‘Women’s Programme’ was broadcast on 7 November 1983. The presenter is Marian Finucane. The reporter is Doireann Ní Bhriain.
Credit to : CR’s Video Vaults

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